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Accepted Paper:

Forms of value making in Aberdeen harbour and its communities  
Jvan Yazdani (Sapienza University of Rome)

Paper short abstract:

The oil and gas industry has shaped Aberdeen and its Harbour. As reserves near peak production radical transformations are undergoing to revitalise local socio-economical geographies. The communities of Torry, formerly employed in the fishing industry, are at the forefront of this transformation.

Paper long abstract:

Aberdeen Harbour's history spans 900 years, but its current appearance is largely the result of its reconfiguration - started in the 1960s - by the oil and gas industry. Today, with North Sea reserves nearing peak production, the Harbour has become a hub for renewable energies and economic diversification. At the heart of these efforts is Aberdeen Harbour Expansion, operational in 2021.

This paper is the result of a lengthy acquaintance with the local communities of Torry (an economically deprived neighbourhood situated at the forefront of the Harbour development). In Torry, a rich legacy of memories testifies to a history of radical transformations and value-making in local socio-economical geographies: initially, from fishing and ship-building industries; today, from extractivism to decommissioning and a growing cruise sector.

As an anthropologist grounded in the study of migration and rurality in post-Soviet contexts, I bring an attention to the production of space, cognizant of the difficulties posed by retrospective interpretations (Lefebvre 1991 [1974]: 113). That is, our understanding of environments, whether 'natural' or built, entertains puzzling relations with their past and present use that can ultimately conceal history. The construction of maritime infrastructures can be thus framed by the realization that they combine, in intricate and often enigmatic ways, social memories and future imaginaries (Havey, Knox 2015: 6). I offer an ethnographical analysis that is brazenly incipient ; it represents a transition from previous work and is geared towards the resistances of rock, the clanging of machinery and engineering imaginaries.

Panel P059
Sea Economies: Labour, Infrastructure and New Techno-Environmental Horizons